|Marve gets comfortable at Kinnick|
I'd love to come up with a snarky headline about Iowa out-Purdueing Purdue or the Boilers lucking into one, and maybe there is some room for jokes like that, but the truth is, the Boilers didn't back into this one. It was a sometimes fun, back-and-forth game between two pretty terrible football teams (sorry...two teams that are struggling) that ended with the Boilers stuffing Iowa on a fourth down try as the Hawkeyes were trying to get into field goal range, followed by Robert Marve leading the Boilers downfield so that Paul Griggs could nail a 46 yard field goal to win the game. Pretty damn exciting and I'm sure it felt as good as it looked like it did to this embattled team.
I also will say I must admit I was wrong. I didn't think the Boilers really had a chance to go on the road to a place they just don't win and beat a team that, while scuffling, features a talented QB, a solid run game and an above-average coach (some might argue with me on the last one). But Iowa proved they're struggling in that way that's almost more frustrating than anything. You see glimpses of the potential and know what some of these guys are capable of -- and have even seen it at times this season -- but they simply can't put it all together anymore. Believe us, OMHR fans, we know the feeling. Not that we feel badly for you because you are, after all, OMHR.
Robert Marve completed 75% of his passes on 25/33 for 266 and two TDs with no INTs. Not bad for a guy with only one functioning knee, if you're into that sort of thing. Robert now has 8 TDs and just two picks on the season. Pretty tidy and efficient if you ask me, plus the team seems to respond to him. In addition, his second TD of the day to Gary Bush in the end zone was the kind of on-the-run, reading-the-openings kind of TD pass that reminds you of Marve's talent.
Ralph Bolden was the Ralph Bolden of old, rushing for 102 yards on 14 carries (7.3 yard average) and making us for a moment wonder what might have been this year had he been health all season.
The defense clamped down this week and while there were a couple of seemingly big plays, the Iowans only had 264 yards of total offense, with only 74 of them coming on the ground. That's pretty damn amazing, even if Iowa is on a slide.
The Boilers also -- amazingly -- turned the ball over three times to Iowa's none. If you lose the turnover battle by three and are playing on the road against a team with a better record than you, I don't know what the odds of winning are, but I imagine they're kind of steep. Marve, Bolden and Griggs wouldn't let it happen.
|Gotta say, I love the Iowa helmets.|
Kudos also to Patrick Higgins, who is Purdue's wide receivers coach but today served as offensive coordinator, filling in for the injured Gary Nord and making good use of Robert Marve's talents. Higgins has served as an OC before (actually, at UTEP under Nord), so I'd say he should hold the post until he loses. Get well Gary, but don't rush back.
Speaking of that, does this game get you believing again? I know you don't want to, but there's got to be a little part of you saying that hey, if Purdue can win at Iowa, they can surely win at Illinois. And if that happens, a bowl game all comes down to beating IU at home. IU, for their part, got positively shellacked vs Wisconsin today and now needs to win at PSU to wind up in the same position. Which, frankly, I am fine with. Let's have something for the Boilers to play for in that game. We've been saying for years that it would be nice.
Sure, we've said a few times that the season is effectively over -- even winning out only brings them to 6-6 and yet another mediocre bowl. This is not progress, even if it happens. Could it be enough to save Danny Hope's job? Who knows, of course, but I have a hard time seeing Morgan Burke firing a guy on a 4 game winning streak (if you include a bowl). And just like previous years under Hope, it will be just that much more frustrating to see them play well for a stretch and to know how much better it all could have been. But that's the best there is from this point on. We at BS do not agree with Hope that such a finish would constitute a "successful" season and it just serves to underscore our frustrations with Danny that he would even suggest that could possibly be acceptable.
However, as I said, it's all there is at this point. On to Illinois.